The Root of It All

Happy Monday friends. Soon, we’ll be headed down to Phoenix Children’s Hospital so we can hopefully figure out what ails our son (prayers welcome). As it often goes, I’m trying to get through this while juggling multiple projects that won’t wait for me to be ready, so I’ve fallen behind on writing and, well, everything else.

But would you be interested in a project I’m starting with a friend ? Are you a writer? Do you feel like marketing your writing(s) and building your platform is demanding a higher priority than God? Several years ago, I attended a mini writer’s conference with a well-known Christian agent. I enjoyed meeting him and learned a great deal, although a few things he said left me troubled. He mentioned that unless a writer has already generated a successful platform and MANY social media followers, most large publishers will not consider their book, no matter how well-written, no matter what message it contains. There are rare exceptions, of course.

While I understand that publishers, even Christian publishers, run businesses and have to consider the marketability of an author, the all-powerful bottom line feels immensely wrong.

Yes, marketing is important; no one would ever know about books otherwise, but God gave us faith first. Not faith in our ability to make money, but faith in Him. Roots logo He gives us talent and story ideas. What about you? Perhaps there’s just one person who needs to read your blog, or that article you wrote, or the book-in-progress sitting on your desk. Maybe you are more than an entertainer. Maybe you’re a missionary. Perhaps your mission field is within the pages of your manuscript. Is that one (several, maybe many) person God has inspired you to reach not more important than bowing to the gods of money?

As Christians, money should never come first, business or not. God says it simply: “In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success.” Proverbs 3:6. That doesn’t say if the author is bankable. It doesn’t say as long as the author has 20,000 followers. (Those of us who read a lot have recognized that some books get published because the name on the cover sells them, not necessarily because the quality of writing/message is excellent). It says in everything, put God first.

Please understand I’m not discouraging publication with a large publisher, I’m just trying to help bring the industry back to the roots of who we were made to be.

Roots Writers Social Media and Critique Group is an in-person and online writers group. We’re starting soon, with our first meeting in the Prescott area, but in February, it’s open to you. Every other month we’ll meet online. It’s free. For those interested in joining or even starting a local chapter, visit this page.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Tell us in the comments.

The Power of Fiction

As an older teen I was a teacher’s aide for a semester, and spent the majority of my time at my desk reading for pleasure until a project presented itself. On one of these half-busy days the teacher picked up the book on my desk, read the description and squinted at me for an awkward moment. “There are lots of good magazines and books in my room you can read. They talk about Hinduism, Buddhism, open-minded ideas.”
My book talked about God.
When I walked through the halls of my college dormitory, girls of all kinds engaged in everything their parents told them not to: Drugs, alcohol…use your imagination. Even most of the Christians joined in, extinguishing this little light of theirs. The first taste of independence reigned, leaving not-quite-grownups at the mercy of their insecurities.

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If you didn’t anchor yourself to God, and I mean really held him tight, you became a party favor – a dancer at the base of Mt. Sinai.
Many of the teachers encouraged (not so) “open-minded” ideas. A large portion of them agreed with a camp counselor I had one summer that the Christian way of thinking was harmful and therefore should be eradicated. Nothing much has changed. This is how kids are met when entering college. Out of context Bible verses get thrown in their faces, and unless they know the real deal, the arguments against God become siren’s songs.

Have you walked through the book section in WalMart lately? Take a look and see what the youth are reading.

According the Steve Laube Agency, “There are 200,000 new books published in the United States each year from traditional publishers (self-publishing would more than double that). Of those, less than 10,000 would be Christian books from Christian publishers.”

How many faith-based books are written for late teens and early twenty something’s? Very few compared to the majority of books that hit the shelves. Most of them are permeated with vampires, zombies, and many hopeless messages, submerging our youth in many “open-minded” ideas. These books become best sellers and then get made into movies. They get printed into posters, stamped on itsy bitsy T-shirts and get worn by young mothers who name their children after vampires and other similar influences. Books are powerful.

The New Adult genre popped in the book world a few years ago when a handful of authors thought,” Why aren’t there books for 18-25 yr. olds?” Finally, our readers who are struggling with the shift from childhood to adulthood have relatable characters. The problem? These books are not much different from the YA books for older teens, except they are stuffed with more sex. Yep, that’s their answer for the New Adult generation.

When researching the popular books and movies for youth, my husband and I went to see one of these very-popular-books-turned-movie and I was so disappointed when one of the main characters (a Nephilum) announced the challenges they faced. They would fight, and keep fighting, but they could never win. There was no hope. This was the main theme of the movie.
Parents – reading, yes, even recreational reading, is a huge part of education/inspiration. It is powerful. By throwing your support to Christian writers/publishers, you nudge the faith based books onto the shelves, giving your child options that have what so many of the secular books don’t have: hope, truth.
Christian Writers—if you’re feeling the nudge to write for youth, and are keeping your sights on crossover books – don’t forget the Christian youth surrounded by dark—too dark, influences. They need your support. Meet them right where they drown in the world’s mud (And the Amish books aren’t going to do it for them).
I asked the sales clerk at the local Christian bookstore how many New Adult books she had in stock. After scratching her head and some keyboard pounding she found ONE on the way. ONE. Get writing.
Readers—thank you for your unfailing support. God is bringing his love and His eternal truth to you in the art of fiction. Look for it!

How do books influence you/ your family members? Tell us in the comments.

Let Them Dance

Praise the Lord!

Sing to the Lord a new song,

his praise in the assembly of the godly!

2 Let Israel be glad in his Maker;

let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!

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3 Let them praise his name with dancing,
making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!

4 For the Lord takes pleasure in his people;
he adorns the humble with salvation.
Psalm 149: 1-4